Eric Daniel Johnson
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationHarvard U.
Grant numberGr. 9820
Approve DateApril 29, 2019
Project TitleJohnson, Eric (Harvard U.) "Indigeneity and Industrialization: Assessing Style, Production, and Consumption of Shell Beads between New Jersey and the Plains, 1750-1900 CE"
This project asks how materializations of identity at the borders of colonial dispossession structured a local trajectory of capitalism. It analyzes debris from Euro-American-owned shell bead production sites in northern New Jersey. There, colonists appropriated wampum, an iconic Northeastern indigenous bead style, in a cottage industry that culminated in the “Campbell Factory,” a major firm that monopolized the market by 1850. Fur trade merchants—harbingers of settler-colonial violence, extraction, and dispossession—exchanged New Jersey ornaments with diverse Native communities on the Northern and Southern Plains. Indigenous consumers incorporated eastern-made beads into modes of adornment while undertaking increasingly vital projects of resistance, survival, and sovereignty. Combining analysis of museum collections with excavations in Bergen County, NJ, archaeological methods assess a local case of “industrialization”: reconstructing styles, stages of production, efficiencies, standardization, technologies, and the identities and lived experience of laborers. These variables will be compared to regional trends in Native Plains bodily adornment. What hallmarks of “industrialization” occurred? What elements of commodity-change can be tied to adornment on the Great Plains? And in turn, how did widespread indigenous consumption amidst colonial incursion bind Euro-American producers into relations of dependency, structuring the local character of capitalism in the process?